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About Simeon's Experience!

Hey everyone 😀

My name is Simeon Lakuc, and I currently support the PR team at Pearl Lemon PR as a PR specialist.

This month (September 2022), I’ve officially made a year working at Pearl Lemon. My experience working with Pearl Lemon has been such a roller coaster of emotions, but I would never want to exchange the experience for anything. 

This blog will give an account of the highlights of my experience so far. 

The first month:

My first month with Pearl Lemon was an exciting but terrifying experience. The exciting part was the entire application process. It’s super automated and straightforward, which made me view the company as innovative and tech-forward. I had wanted to join a company like that, especially coming out of covid: I had realised the way forward was automation and remote work. At first, I didn’t get any reply after applying. When I eventually got a reply, I jumped on a call with HR. I had an interview with Pearl, the Head of PR, who was transitioning from Head of content. 

I had initially applied to be a content writer, but when I met with Pearl, she saw that my skills would apply better in PR than in content. So when I started my 3-day trial, I was introduced to the fantastic world of PR, which entailed pitching, client calls, press releases and social media management. 

The exciting part out of the way, I realised very quickly that I needed to pull my socks up and get into learning mode. It was an area I had never ventured into or thought I would be able to do. But throughout the trial process, Pearl was super helpful, availed herself of questions, and supported me with whatever information I needed. 

It was indeed a trial by fire! But I eventually managed to accomplish all the tasks, and then my 30 days of probation commenced. Throughout this time, I received training from multiple sources, and I put in time and effort to ensure I was practising what I was learning. Pearl was happy with my performance – THANK GOD – and she recommended that I eventually continue to complete the rest of the 6 months. I was well aware that other people I applied with hadn’t gone through this phase, so I was more than grateful that I was given the opportunity.

I learnt a couple of essential things that month:

  • How PR works both externally and internally
  • How vital PR is for businesses and brands
  • Learning new concepts only profits you when you can practice what you are learning.
  • Deepak has an intense personality ;D
  • How to write emails that are interesting yet details 

The following two months:

By this time, I had gotten the hang of the system and could automate my main tasks. Things seemed to be flowing smoothly, but I wasn’t getting any positive results for some reason. I kept wondering what I was doing wrong, and I wrecked my brain and the internet for solutions. But nothing seemed to be showing up. I consulted with Pearl, and she told me, “take it easy on yourself, you’ll get the hang of things with time”. 

Time seemed to move so slowly during this month, but I kept pushing and encouraging myself to keep going. At the time, Pearl Lemon Uganda had offices, and I used to go there every day for about 5 hours during this period. 

But I started to get discouraged to even leave the house to go to the office because I wasn’t getting the satisfaction of exceptional results. I’m naturally a people pleaser, so I always do my best to ensure people are happy with my performance. I desperately wanted to prove that I was a valuable team member, and I felt my efforts weren’t working. I pushed on still and hung on to the words Pearl told me – “it takes time”.

At the same time, during these two months, I was part of a talent competition as a singer, so I was trying to balance rehearsals and performances with work and school. It was a hectic time, but I promised the company the promised time. 

My main tasks during these months :

  • Pitching for Pearl Lemon, its clients, and Deepak
  • Writing press releases
  • Media outreach to journalists for articles 

The 4th month:

By the fourth month with Pearl Lemon PR, My tasks started to increase and diversify. I was doing more content writing than when I started, and I was genuinely enjoying my work. I was still getting below-standard pitch results, but I dangerously decided to ignore that and focus more on the PR content that needed writing. (you’ll see in the recount of the sixth month why this was a wrong decision)

During the 5th month, I learnt to do so many new lessons and skills:

Lessons –

  • You need to have a lot of discipline when it comes to remote work
  • Learning and growing never stops, even when you think you have mastered what you are doing
  • Timely responses and updates are critical in remote work
  • Having a professional personal social media presence is important 

Skills – 

  • Writing press releases
  • I learned how to properly communicate with journalists 
  • I learned how to represent a client or company in a professional pitch 
  • I learned how to do research the right way.

Months 5 and 6:

This Is Where **** HiT The FAn!! These two months were literally hell. Not because of any person, though; remember earlier I mentioned I put pr pitching aside to focus on tasks that were my strengths. Deepak eventually caught on to my lack of results, and rightfully he wasn’t amused. I wasn’t meeting the expectations that I was hired to meet. Yes, my other tasks were going great, but pitching was meant to be my primary task. 

Deepak offered to train me and help me get better, which is something I truly appreciated. Through this training, I realised I had a significant problem with my proficiency in professional English lingo. That was a BIG problem because most of the publications we would pitch to were British. This was something I needed to fix fast. 

But this period was stressful because I still had to do my daily tasks while I was learning and trying to improve in that area. My social life suffered around this time. I spent a lot of my days and nights, even on weekends, working while doing research and taking lessons. And to top it all off, it was the Christmas period! I was trying to be involved in Christmas activities. However, I still knew in the back of my mind that I had to get my performance at a commendable level, or I wasn’t going to make it past the internship.

So the new year started while I was still in this process of learning and growing. I had thankfully improved, but I was still lagging in certain areas. Throughout this time, I was grateful that the Head of the PR department remained super helpful and encouraging.

Through this period, Deepak started to help me look for alternative tasks that maximised my strengths, researching and handling press releases and expert roundups. I looked into getting publications in Africa and Asia that aren’t as strict in terms of English terminology and phrasing. I did that, and I finally started to get some positive responses. 

Throughout this, I did my best to stay optimistic because that kept me motivated to work in the first place. So I started focusing on those particular tasks until month 7, when I was due for a performance review. 

Skills I gained through the 6-month internship :

  • I learned how to put together valuable pitches 
  • I learned different tips and tricks that help enhance productivity 
  • Some tools and extensions can help make everyday tasks quicker and easier.
  • I learned that you can always find where to add value
  • Learning how to be efficient in a team 
  • PR tactics that help get your client in front of major publications

End of the internship:

By this time, I discovered I wasn’t going to continue full-time. I had a call with Deepak, and because I wasn’t delivering to the expectation that was required, I wouldn’t be able to get a full-time placement. I completely understood where he was coming from. Frankly, I was pretty overwhelmed with the work and the speed at which I was expected to progress. So I wasn’t mad at the decision at all, and I knew that as the Head of a company this big, some decisions have to be made for the company’s future. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t devastated; I was an absolute wreck. I kept beating myself and convinced myself I couldn’t do anything right. 

I didn’t stay down for long, though; I took it upon myself to do a business communication certificate course to improve my PR and communications skills. 

In the meantime, I was part of a modern production of the Shakespeare Play: Merchant of Venice. Did I mention I love theatre? Well, I looooove theatre. I’m a theatre nerd, so doing Shakespeare was an opportunity of a lifetime. I then went on to do other acting gigs like playing a character in national television series and other minor characters in movies.

While doing this, I continued to further my education in communications and career through my course. 

Rejoining the team!!:

As I was wrapping up shooting on the different projects I was working on, I got a call! A call from HR at Pearl Lemon invited me to take another chance at the position I was working. It would be roughly the same role but with a few tweaks that allow for more diversification. At first, I wasn’t sure whether getting back would be the right decision for me, so I asked for time to think about it. 

After about two weeks, I replied with a positive response. I returned to the company with a fresh outlook on the position and my role. I had been taking classes, and I had learned alot in the short period I was away. To this day, I’m forever grateful to Pearl and Deepak for this second chance. It was something I didn’t know I needed. 

My significant tasks when I came back:

  • Expert round-ups
  • PR blog content
  • Assisting the Head of PR 
  • Writing press releases
  • Email correspondence between journalists 
  • Media outreach for articles that can provide backlinks to Pearl Lemon

My new tasks :

One of the most exciting things about working for Pearl Lemon for me is that the company is constantly growing and evolving. By this time, there were cafes and other new brands that the company had branched out into, and it was exciting to see all that unfold. 

The team also keeps growing and changing because we are a young and innovative team. I’ve always found that as something to be super proud of, and I enjoyed being able to resume working with this fantastic team. 

My tasks were still challenging, but I started to hit them on the Head, and I wouldn’t allow myself to be defeated by any challenges. I enjoyed my new tasks and found peace and happiness in the routine, and this saw the results and got a good response from my direct supervisor. The whole experience started to feel very fulfilling.

I had a significant hitch just when settling into my new role. My grandma passed away! She was like a mother to me. She brought me up, and everything I am today, I am because of her. The company gave me time off to deal with the loss, and I was very grateful. 

Okay, no more talking about depressing stuff. I eventually returned to Pearl Lemon after a month and found a lot of comfort in knowing I got to work with such a supportive team. It gave me the motivation I needed to move forward. 

Deepak also put together some excellent training for the team in autonomy and communication. He made it mandatory for us to watch and leave timestamps stating the points you had noted. At first, I’ll be honest, I completely hated it! It was really nagging that I had to watch these videos on top of my daily tasks. But I quickly learned that those videos were going to benefit me alot. I didn’t anticipate how hooked I would get on those videos; repeating them sometimes and doing my best to utilise what I was learning in my daily tasks. I hate to admit it sometimes, but those videos have influenced how I deal with people. I still go back and watch some of them to remind me of the things I may have forgotten.

What I'm doing now:

I’m currently continuing my daily work with the company. I had initially been doing part-time when I first returned. But now, I’m transitioning more into a full-time work plan and offering full-time assistance to the PR team.

My tasks have also evolved and have continued to diversify. I have pitched new ideas that have been implemented, and my role continues to evolve. 

I recently did training on SEO to understand how it works because it was something that I needed to understand especially considering that we are a majorly digital company. SEO management now plays a pivotal part in most of my tasks, and it has made me produce more efficient work. 

I have also started doing many more social media-related tasks that I truly enjoy. There’s just something about getting to interact with influencers and brand ambassadors that has piqued my interest! 

The last 5 months since I returned have been such a beautiful experience. I’m grateful to have the chance to see the different brands grow and improve and the team expand with new roles and outstanding new personalities.

My tasks right now: 

  • Social media marketing
  • Media outreach for PR articles 
  • Journalist research  
  • Transcribing interviews for articles
  • social media Management for the PR department
  • Expert Roundups
  • Other admin tasks 

A lot has changed in my personal life too. I’ve started to drop more responsibilities so that I can give Pearl Lemon more of my time and effort. Right now, I’m trying to balance work and school (the business communications course I was doing), so my time management can still be tricky. Still, I constantly make the necessary adjustments to keep a balanced boat.

I still sing on the weekends at my local church and sometimes at weddings. I also get to see my friends after my work hours, so I am managing to maintain a healthy work-personal life balance. 

.I am still just as excited as when I started with Pearl Lemon; my work has a good blend of diversity and predictability, and I enjoy putting in extra work because I am content with where I am. I’m challenged daily but I tackle those challenges with bravery and intent.

Moving forward

Moving forward, I hope to still be able to work at Pearl Lemon Group and transition into a full-time role. I have a few ideas I’d like to implement that would be super beneficial to the team and the company. I have also gained an interest in social media management and expert roundup outreach, so I hope I’ll be able to have an impact on the company by maximising my skills in those specific areas. One of the most fulfilling things in work is to feel like you make a difference; what you do makes actually plays a part in the team’s success.

I will continue learning and growing and making sure that I don’t stop improving myself for my role in the company and for whatever endeavours I go into.

Lastly, I will note that I would not trade this experience for anything. It has been one hell of a rollercoaster ride, but the kind that you want to get back on and do again. I honestly would definitely want this ride to continue going. Still, even if it doesn’t, I find joy in what I have achieved and everything I’ve learned.